Monash IT master’s students impress in minor thesis showcase

On 23 November, 58 master’s students from Monash Faculty of Information Technology gathered in the Woodside Building for Technology and Design to showcase their minor thesis projects.

Tackling innovative topics from visualising changes in energy consumption during COVID-19 lockdowns to exploring the accessibility of telemental health services, the students have been chipping away at their minor theses for the past two semesters.

Dr Reuben Kirkham, minor thesis and honours coordinator, believes they’re ideal stepping stones to a PhD.

‘The minor thesis pathway is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience working one-on-one with leading academics while utilising state-of-the-art research facilities.’

This event was the finale of a year’s worth of research, where students present their theses in the form of succinct posters. Minor thesis supervisors and fellow IT students shuffled into the room, pausing to listen in on thesis topics that strike their fancy.

Some other curious academics also popped in to discover what our master’s students explored, with one being the faculty’s Deputy Dean (Education), Associate Professor Matthew Butler.

‘It’s great to see such diverse topics, which really showcases the breadth of our faculty,’ said Associate Professor Butler. ‘It’s also wonderful to see students and teachers interact with each other after being restricted to Zoom for so long. Public speaking is such a crucial skill for students to practice. And they seemed really happy, which is the most important thing.’

A quick scan across the room revealed smiles all-round. The participants chattered away, relieved to finally share their hard work with the public and demonstrate what a Monash master’s student can achieve.

‘I’ve grown to be extremely self-motivated,’ shared one of the students, Xiaoyun (Shawna) Zhao. ‘Although we had a whole year to write our thesis, I challenged myself to write it within thirty days so that I could submit it for external publication in September. You really get out what you put in.’

Shawna’s project is titled ‘Time Series Forecasting on Flu Predictions by Using a Transformer-Based Model’. She proposed a generalisable memory-driven transformer model, the first of its kind focusing on issues that arise from multivariate long sequence time-series forecasting. Her results demonstrate that this approach can be incorporated into varying transformer-based models with minimal modifications to improve their performances up to 30%.

All high-performing postgraduate IT students at Monash have the opportunity to complete a minor thesis as part of their degree. Here are some other impressive projects that were on display that day:

Visualising the impact of COVID on the Australian electricity market, Shaylin Chetty

Shaylin’s project took advantage of Melbourne’s title as longest locked down city in the world, investigating how the restrictions impacted the state’s energy usage.

By contacting five of the biggest names in energy – PowerCor Australia, Ausnet Services, United Energy Distribution, Citipower and Jemena – Shaylin acquired granular data to propel his research forward. He discovered that residential electricity usage skyrocketed while industrial usage declined.

To communicate his results with the public, Shaylin created a website that is now available for the public to view their energy usage.

Shaylin hopes that by getting the public interested in energy consumption, it will reshape sustainability activism advertising and actions, especially considering society is moving towards carbon-neutral technology like solar panels and electric vehicles.

Analyzing On-Chain Cryptocurrency Transactions to Identify Liquidity Removal Scams, Raymond Chen

While most people are interested in the infrastructure of cryptocurrency, Raymond was more interested in the transactional side of it. As a result, he created a model that detects if an internet token is a hard rug pull (a common cryptocurrency scam) using three determining factors: token attributes, liquidity pool attributes and modified guilt by association. Assuming all tokens are hard rug pulls results in an accuracy of 46%, however by using his own model, Raymond achieved a 71% accuracy instead.

Raymond’s research shows that there is still a long way to go for cryptocurrency to be a trustworthy future financial pathway because right now, it is still rife with scams.

An exploratory study into accessibility of mental health services through telehealth, Faisha Putri Indira Surjatin

The pandemic has seen a rise in demand for mental health and telehealth services.

Faisha interviewed healthcare providers – including clinicians and administrative staff – to uncover the types of clients that benefit from telemental health, as well as the factors facilitating and restricting it. She sees healthcare adopting a hybrid model in the future, so she hopes her research will contribute to the improvement of telemental health.

The major barriers she discovered were accessibility and privacy issues. The elderly voiced how there was a steep learning curve when familiarising themselves with the required technology. In terms of privacy, many patients found it difficult to secure a suitable location within their homes to speak to their therapists and counsellors. Further, the lack of face-to-face interaction left many finding it tough to open up about a matter as delicate as mental health.